Chestnut Oak (Quercus prinus)

Chestnut Oak (Quercus prinus)

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Common Name(s): Chestnut Oak

Scientific Name: Quercus prinus

Distribution: Eastern United States

Tree Size: 60-70 ft (18-22 m) tall, 2-4 ft (.6-1.2 m) trunk diameter

Average Dried Weight: 47 lbs/ft3 (750 kg/m3)

Specific Gravity (Basic, 12% MC): .57, .75

Janka Hardness: 1,130 lbf (5,030 N)

Modulus of Rupture: 13,300 lbf/in2 (91.7 MPa)

Elastic Modulus: 1,590,000 lbf/in2 (11.00 GPa)

Crushing Strength: 6,830 lbf/in2 (47.1 MPa)

Shrinkage:Radial: 5.3%,Tangential: 10.8%, Volumetric: 16.4%, T/R Ratio: 2.0

Color/Appearance: Has a light to medium brown color, though there can be a fair amount of variation in color. Conversely, Red Oak tends to be slightly redder, but is by no means a reliable method of determining the type of Oak.

Grain/Texture: Has medium-to-large pores and a fairly coarse grain.

Rot Resistance: Chestnut Oak has been rated as having very good resistance to decay.

Workability: Easy to glue, and takes stain and finishes very well.

Odor: Has a tell-tale smell that is common to most oaks. Most find it appealing.

Allergies/Toxicity: Although severe reactions are quite uncommon, oak has been reported as a sensitizer. Usually most common reactions simply include eye and skin irritation, as well as asthma-like symptoms. See the articles Wood Allergies and Toxicity and Wood Dust Safety for more information.

Pricing/Availability: Slightly more expensive than Red Oak, White Oak is in good/sustainable supply and is moderately priced. Thicker 8/4 planks, or quartersawn boards are slightly more expensive per board foot.

Sustainability: This wood species is not listed in the CITES Appendices or on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.

Common Uses: Cabinetry, furniture, interior trim, flooring, boatbuilding, barrels, and veneer.

Comments: Chestnut Oak falls into the white oak group, and shares many of the same traits as White Oak (Quercus alba). White Oak, along with its brother Red Oak, are commonly used domestic lumber species. Hard, durable, and moderately priced, White Oak presents an exceptional value to woodworkers—which explains why it is so widely used in cabinet and furniture making.

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  1. Danny Leitner December 29, 2018 at 5:07 pm - Reply

    I just took down five chestnut oaks in the yard do to a Blythe that is killing chestnut oaks on the east coast. I usually work with red and white oak but this chestnut is beautiful after having it sawed into 5/4 boards. It’s going the same path as the chestnut tree.

  2. David N, Johann April 8, 2013 at 7:51 pm - Reply

    chesnut oak is here in Brown County Indiana. Just cut around four hundred board feet for a cabin floor. The trees here are dying from who knows what and many are hollow.

  3. Christopher Morrison January 31, 2013 at 1:23 pm - Reply

    Gregory, could it have been Smoot Lumber just outside of Falls Church?

  4. Gregory Richards August 15, 2011 at 10:36 pm - Reply

    I am a professional woodworker who had the great privilege and pleasure of working with Chestnut Oak only once in my life. I haven’t been able to find it anywhere since. I was building a set of staircases in the home of a heart surgeon in a small town located in Northern North Carolina – I don’t recall the name of the town. The surgeon, however, was the head of the cardiology department in the local hospital in that town. In any case, the main set of the homes’ stairs which led to the second floor had newel posts made of Ambrosia Maple, (I believe they were box newels, if I remember correctly), rails made of Mahogany, and treads made of Chestnut Oak. This Oak was only similar to White Oak, and that is all. Its’ color was distinctly its own, having a markedly grayish tint to it, and it was most definitely a darker version of its’ white oak kin. I would even say that it had the faintest presence of a greenish quality to its overall look.

    BUT the most valuable feature of this incredible wood, in my opinion, was its’ ability to hold the finest of detail in my sculptures and carvings. You see, although I came across this wood only once in my life, I was able to procure enough of the left over stock to provide me with many, many hours of carving bliss. It was really astounding to me how easy it was to produce that which you wanted to in this lumber. It was almost as though it had no preset tenancies to go this way or that way in its’ grains. It seemed to simply go where ever you set your gouges to go!

    It really broke my heart when several years after this project was completed I was unable to get anyone involved in that project to recall where that particular wood was purchased! Although I do know it was purchased in Virginia, in a town with the word “Church” in its’ name, that is all I remember about it, and I’ve been nothing but unsuccessful in tracking down any lumber supplier who carries such a wood!! And now I am reading that Chestnut Oak is sold as White Oak, I can only say that a terrible injustice is being done to such a fine, fine wood….not that Whit Oak isn’t, but Chestnut Oak has far too many unique qualities of its own to not merit a spotlight of its own, by itself, and not simply tossed in there with “white oak” as it always and so conveniently seems to be.

    • 1tootall April 4, 2014 at 10:54 am - Reply

      I am just finishing a blanket box from a Chesnut oak that came down in hurricane Irene several years ago on our property. We milled and dried the stock. Just now assembling it after finish-spraying the parts. Amazing stuff to work…never found it prior, and can’t find it anywhere at this time. beautiful finishing characteristics, however..BTW I tried to upload a pic of it but it didn’t take….not sure why…

      • Robert King August 29, 2015 at 11:04 pm - Reply

        Chestnut Oak grows in the foothills in most areas of Southern Virginia. I have even found some around the Raleigh NC area. Please let me know if you are interested in purchasing some and I may be able to help you.

        • 1tootall August 30, 2015 at 7:28 am - Reply

          Really!! My son lives in Bristol. How far south are you talking?? I just cut down one that had died. The wood not if a quality that could milled unfortunately. Thanks for input.

          • Robert King August 30, 2015 at 6:02 pm

            Many of the Chestnut Oak trees that I harvest come from South Boston Virginia and some of the surrounding areas. Bristol Tn? or VA?

          • 1tootall August 30, 2015 at 6:50 pm


          • 1tootall August 31, 2015 at 9:33 am

            So what sort of pricing exists for chestnut oak ??? If it is available??

      • Robert King August 31, 2015 at 3:52 pm - Reply

        you can contact me @ seven zreo 4 five six 2 nine four 9 five if you want to discuss the chestnut oak.

        • 1tootall September 1, 2015 at 8:43 am - Reply

          curious as to why you set your number in that fashion???

    • David July 27, 2014 at 9:48 am - Reply

      I just finished a hike up a mountain here in NW Georgia. At about 1200 feet this oak starts to flourish. It grows in and all around on rocks and boulders. The White Oak grows at lower levels here at about 600 feet in the lower parts of the river bottoms. This is a very hard species to log due to where it grows that’s why the availability is small. I looked for acorns growing on the trees and did not see any. I would like to get some to plant at lower levels, maybe they will appear later in the year. Knowing a logger in the mountains would be a connection if you weren’t opposed to doing some of your own milling. Definitely different from white oak, and I would love to have some myself.

    • Robert King August 29, 2015 at 11:02 pm - Reply

      Hi Greg, not sure you are still interested in Chestnut Oak, but I harvest this stuff all the time. I have plenty and could sell you some if you are interested. I am actually sawing some up next week. I have some QS stock in the barn. the stuff that I am sawing next week will be flat sawn.

    • Emily Dewan Mueller April 3, 2017 at 8:37 pm - Reply
    • michael wiseman floyd September 28, 2017 at 12:21 pm - Reply

      Hello, Gregory! I live in W. NC in the foothills of the Blue Ridge. We have about 40 acres loaded with Chestnut Oak. I am going to harvest a lot of it. I could work with you to have it custom milled, if you would like a large supply of it. I have a friend who has kiln dried a few thousand already.
      my email is wisemanfloyds, then put an @ , then
      You can also call 828- two, four five, 5033

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